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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Muslim Brotherhood’

‘The US Can Forget about Democracy in Egypt’

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

The United States should forget about trying to turn Egypt into a democratic country, according to retired IDF Major-General Amos Gilad, who served for years as senior adviser to the Defense Ministry.

Expectations of establishing Western-style democracy in Egypt or anywhere else in the Middle East are “an illusion,” he said last week at a gathering in Israel of  the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), as reported by Defense News.

He added that, Mideast democracy is “four or five decades” away. “As an Israeli, I am for stability rather than for so-called democracy that brings in terrible forces like the Muslim Brotherhood. I realize this is not politically correct to say in the United States … but I think we need, together, to prefer stability,” he said.

Explaining Everything in Washington in 600 Words (Really)

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“I had always thought wishful thinking a motive frequently underrated in political analysis and prediction.”  –WALTER LAQUEUR

If you have never understood U.S. Middle East policy  here it is: The  (wrong) response to September 11.
What do I mean? Simple.

There are two ways to respond to September 11:

A. There is a struggle on with revolutionary Islamists which is a huge battle that is parallel to the Cold War or the Allied-Axis conflict. America must organize a united front to fight this battle against the Islamists:

Sunnis or Shia; Turkish, Iranian, or Arab; the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist, and al-Qaida. Hamas, Hizballah. And the Taliban.

B. Or, what appears easier, having a lot more allies and fewer enemies (I said seems) only to focus on al-Qaida. That’s the problem! After all, who else attacked the United States, Great Britain, Spain, and Kenya? Etc.? And anyway, the conflict is probably America’s fault or a lack of communication.

That’s it. Honest. And guess what? The Washington insiders, “experts” (anything but), officials, lots of intelligence (people and also John Brennan, the head of the CIA), a lot of military officers, and lots of sectors of the Republican party (especially Senator John McCain) believe this.

It is not healthy in Washington for one’s career not to believe it.

But after all, it is understandable (albeit also inaccurate and stupid).

Look at this point:

Who do you believe is an enemy who wants to fight and hurt America and the West?

A. The Syrian and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhoods, the Salafists, al-Qaida. Hamas, Hizballah, the Taliban, Iran, and Turkey.

B. Just al-Qaida?

See what I mean?

Think some more:

Suppose we could get all these non-al-Qaida Islamists as allies?

Suppose we could get all these non-al-Qaida Islamists to repress al-Qaida and so stop terrorist attacks?

Wouldn’t that be an easier task? One that would theoretically involve costing fewer American lives, less money, and be more popular with voters?

Of course.

And finally, of course, that’s what the president and mass media believe.

The problem is, though, that gets the Islamist ideology wrong. Al-Qaida and the other revolutionary Islamist have different tactics but not different goals. Learning that lesson will take years and be very painful. The wrong ideas are deeply embedded in large parts of the arrogant, ignorant, and financially interested establishment.

You should understand that: It is not acceptable in official Washington or its peripheral sectors to say that the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt, Syria, Hamas) is a terrorist group.

It is not acceptable in official Washington or its peripheral sectors to say that the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt, Syria, Hamas) is an anti-American group.

BUT  IT IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE TO CLAIM THAT THE REPUBLICANS ARE TERRORISTS, HOSTAGE-TAKERS, AND ANTI-AMERICANS.
 
STRANGE, HUH?

Well, consider this from my mentor Walter Laqueur who is now in his 92nd year and still writing brilliantly:

“Another factor frequently overlooked is the reluctance to admit mistakes which also seems hardwired to the human brain.  Perhaps most important of all is the crucial factor of moving with the right crowd.  As Jean Daniel put it:  Better to be wrong with Sartre than right with Raymond Aron (originally it was Camus). Sartre might have been consistently wrong in his political judgment and Aron almost always right. But did it really matter very much?  Aron and Isaiah Berlin might have been right but during the cold war they were pro-American and this was not good at all– even if their American connections were mainly  with  liberals. This is how reputations quite often develop and how they endure. It is an interesting  issue certainly in need of further investigation.”

Hamas and Local Salafi Jihadist (Al Qaeda) Reconciling

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Abu Abdullah Al-Maqdis, a leader in Gaza’s Jihadi Salafist movement, affiliated with Al Qaeda, told the Asharq Al-Awsat  website that Hamas and the Salafist have been working towards a reconciliation in Gaza.

Al-Maqdis said the two will begin implementing their agreement over the next few months.

According to the site:

“The 8-point agreement reportedly includes clauses granting the Salafists freedom to operate in politics, the military, religious advocacy, and civil and social organizations. It also includes an explicit end to the phenomenon of political assassinations and the formulation of a joint committee to deal with any disputes that could lead to new crisis between the two groups.

In return for this, the jihadist Salafist factions will commit to the ceasefire and other decisions made by the ruling Hamas movement.”

Foreign intermediaries who helped arrange for the agreement include Islamic clerics from Kuwait and Qatar, as well as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a popular Al Jazeera Islamic televangelist who has been barred entry from the UK and France.

Al-Qaradawi, who openly supports suicide bombings against Israel, is known for his quote stating that Muslims will continue Hitler’s work:

“Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the Jews people who would punish them for their corruption…The last punishment was carried out by [Adolf] Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them…Allah Willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”

With the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas has been reaching out to other Islamic regimes for support, including Turkey and Iran.

Obama Tries to Buy Democracy in Egypt with Cut in Military Aid

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The Obama administration is cutting back military aid to Egypt in another effort to force democracy on a Muslim country that has become more unstable and violent with every American move to prove to Egyptians it knows what is best for them.

U.S. State Dept. assistant spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Wednesday, “The President has…been clear that we are not able to continue to with business [with Egypt] as usual. As you know, we have already announced that we are not proceeding with the delivery of certain military systems… We will continue to support a democratic transition and oppose violence as a means of resolving differences in Egypt.”

The American government is suspending shipments of F-16 warplanes, Apache helicopters, 1,000 M1 tanks, spare parts needed for maintenance and missiles, among other items.

The cut in aid is “pending credible progress toward an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government through free and fair elections,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

The last time the United States tried that game, it resulted in the election of the Muslim Brotherhood government. One year later, the Obama administration saw its game plan went awry, and it backed the ouster of the democratically-elected government.

In other words, it wants the Egyptian military regime to get off its horse and take another crack at corrupting Islam with democratic elections.

If “corrupt” sounds too harsh, here is what former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, born and raised in Iraq and a lot more in tune with the Arabic mentality that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and a long line of “have a nice day” predecessors.

He told Voice of Israel radio the Americans do not understand that democracy contradicts Islamic law.

But the Obama administration insists on forcing a round pole into a square hole.

Mubarak was an autocrat and a dear friend of several U.S. governments, but when the Arab Spring rebellion brought out the worst of Mubarak, with nearly 1,000 Egyptians brutally killed, the Obama administration jumped on the anarchists’ bandwagon and encouraged his overthrow.

Once it appeared the radical Muslim Brotherhood would be a dominant force, it did somersaults away from a strong policy of staying clear of the Brotherhood and instead began embracing it, despite its open anti-American and anti-Israel agenda.

The White House and Foggy Bottom congratulated the Muslim Brotherhood on winning the elections because it was a victory for democracy.

The rest is history. After one year, the Brotherhood proved just as corrupt and brutal as Mubarak, but politically ignorant.

So the Obama administration decided that democracy is not such a great idea when radical Muslims win.

Out goes the Muslim Brotherhood and in its place comes a “temporary” military regime, desperately trying to save Egypt from bankruptcy and from Hamas and Al Qaeda terrorists and  a few other fanatical groups vying for 72 virgins.

But the military regime was not very polite to the Brotherhood and brutally killed protesters. That is what Mubarak did. That is what the Brotherhood did. It seems that is the way things run in Egypt.

But Washington knows better and now is holding back some military aid, which will make it even harder for the regime to combat terrorists, such as those who killed four Egyptian soldiers Thursday morning in a car bomb explosion in the Sinai.

“We’ll see, next time, when a U.S. aircraft carrier wants to go through the Suez Canal, whether it goes to the front of the line,”  David Schenker, director of the Arab politics program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Bloomberg News Wednesday He added that  Egyptians “do a lot of things that are very helpful to us and they can be less helpful.”

The American government has thrown itself in a corner with a law that requires the suspension of aid to countries where there has been a coup d’etat, which the administration refuses to admit occurred in Egypt.

Despite the new suspension in military aid, the United States still is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Egypt.

Paul Gamble, Director of the Africa & Middle East team of Fitch’s Sovereign Ratings Group, told Asharq Al-Awsat. “This does not mean any less money is going to the Egyptian economy, so it really does not have an impact. It’s more a political gesture.”

Egypt Kills 28 Morsi Backers ‘Celebrating’ Yom Kippur War

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Egyptian military forces killed at least 28 supporters of Mohammed Morsi Sunday and would dozens of others after they crowded the streets of Cairo to “celebrate” the English anniversary of the Egyptian invasion of Israel at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War 40 years ago.

Egyptians celebrated the anniversary, a national holiday, every year, but the pro-Morsi protests upset the military regime’s plans that the festivities this year would honor the armed forces.

More than 300 Morsi supporters throughout the country.

 

After the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Is Hamas in Gaza Next in Line?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Originally published at Israel and Terrorism.

Egypt has finally decided to tackle the security threat from the Sinai Peninsula, a region that was nearly under the control of jihadist organizations with links to al-Qaeda and Hamas.

The Egyptian army’s ultimate goal is clear: to recover Egypt’s sovereignty in Sinai. In order to succeed in its mission, the Egyptian supreme command understands that it must neutralize Hamas, which it sees as partly responsible for the security situation in Sinai during the last few years.

For the first time since it was founded, Hamas is showing signs of panic. Egyptian newspapers quoted Palestinian sources as saying that 90 percent of the smuggling tunnels along the border with Gaza have stopped functioning as a result of Egyptian measures, leading to the potential loss of nearly 40 percent of Hamas’ revenues.

With the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt counting its dead by the hundreds and the campaign being waged by the Egyptian army against them far from over, and with its relations with Turkey and Qatar faltering, Hamas has instructed its spokesmen to avoid making any comments about the crisis in Egypt so as not to evoke the wrath of Egyptian army Commander in Chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Since the Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in early July 2013, it has embarked on a punitive campaign against Hamas, the self-declared offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood.

During this time, the Egyptian army has destroyed more than 300 tunnels (out of as many as 800), the arteries of the Gaza economy; created a 500-meter-wide buffer zone along the 11 km. Gaza-Egypt border, from the Mediterranean Sea until the Israel-Egypt border south of Rafah, while razing scores of inhabited buildings that stood in the way;1 implemented a de-facto siege on Gaza by closing intermittently the official Israel-Egypt border crossing; chased Gaza fisherman at sea; and engaged in an unprecedented and coordinated media smear campaign against Hamas, accusing the terrorist group of trying to destabilize Egypt and ultimately replace the government with its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Indeed, Egypt has finally decided to tackle the security threat from the Sinai Peninsula, a region that was nearly under the control of jihadist organizations with links to al-Qaeda and Hamas. The Egyptian army has massed troops, deployed combat helicopters, dispatched navy patrol boats, and is carrying out coordinated attacks against concentrations of terrorists in Sinai.

The Egyptian army’s ultimate goal is clear: to recover Egypt’s sovereignty in Sinai. In order to succeed in its mission, the Egyptian supreme command understands that it must neutralize Hamas, which it sees as partly responsible for the security situation in Sinai during the last few years.

Hamas’ Strong Ties to the Muslim Brotherhood

There is no doubt that the origin of the Egyptian military’s actions against Hamas lay in the basic fact that during the brief rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt under the Morsi presidency, Hamas enjoyed a privileged position and almost an official adoption by the regime, to such a point that Hamas behaved as if it was part of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. For example, Hamas enjoyed complete freedom for its illegal commerce through the 650-800 tunnels that linked the Gaza Strip to Egypt; for its assistance to jihadi groups in Sinai; for its unaccountability for the six Egyptian police officers kidnapped and held in Gaza for more than five years; and, ultimately, for ignoring the Egyptian armed forces’ warnings since Hamas was (according to some sources) led by government officials who issued instructions to ignore the Egyptian army since it was irrelevant.

However, beyond these facts, the actual ruling team in Egypt knows that Hamas was involved in the earliest days of the revolution against President Mubarak, when protesters stormed Egyptian prisons and freed hundreds of detainees, who were mostly Muslim Brothers, as well as Hizbullah and Palestinian operatives held in Egypt for terrorist activities. Hamas took part alongside the Egyptian Muslim Brothers in the violence against the Mubarak regime and, according to some press releases, Hamas operatives were involved in firing metal darts against anti-Morsi protesters loyal to the regime.2

In addition, the Egyptian armed forces accuse Hamas of harboring the jihadists that killed almost 30 Egyptian officers and soldiers in Sinai in the summer of 2012. The Egyptian army also claims that at least five Hamas operatives were involved in the execution of 25 unarmed Egyptian policemen near el-Arish on August 19, 2013.3 The Egyptian army has also accused Hamas of trying to smuggle hundreds of deadly weapons, including 19 Grad rockets, and fake Egyptian army uniforms, in order to create havoc inside Egypt.4

Currently, 15 major terrorist groups operate in Sinai. Each of these groups, without exception, is closely linked to terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip. Egyptian and Israeli authorities are aware that several of the most dominant jihadists in Sinai, including those who were involved in the attack against the Egyptian army in 2012, are now hiding in Gaza with Hamas’ knowledge and consent.5 Finally, Hamas is accused of harboring the new Muslim Brothers’ Supreme Guide, Mahmoud Ezzat, in Gaza and of conducting joint training between Muslim Brothers who found refuge in Gaza and elements of the Al-Qassam Brigades in the area of Khan Younes before sending them to Sinai and inside Egypt.6

Economic Pressure in Gaza

Given what is happening in Egypt now, Hamas is alarmed. For the first time since it was founded, Hamas is showing signs of panic.7 The cost to Hamas is tremendous: Egyptian newspapers quoted Palestinian sources as saying that 90 percent of the smuggling tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip have stopped functioning as a result of the Egyptian measures. According to the Gaza economic ministry, the recent tunnel destruction has cost Gaza around $230 million.8 Hamas spokesmen appealed to the Egyptian authorities asking them not to shut down the tunnels until Hamas could find other channels for bringing goods into Gaza. The extent to which Hamas relies on the smuggling tunnels is evident in an internal report made public by the Al-Monitor news site. It shows that Gaza gets most of its goods through the tunnels, and not through the official border crossings from Israel or Egypt. In the first quarter of 2013, for example, the tunnels provided 65 percent of flour, 98 percent of sugar and 100 percent of steel and cement deliveries.9

If the delivery of goods via the tunnels is discontinued, a lack of supplies will not be the only problem. It will create financial disaster for Hamas, since taxes on goods delivered via Israel are transferred to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Only taxes on smuggled goods end up in the Hamas treasury. It has been estimated that these taxes account for 40 percent of the government’s entire revenue and are used by Hamas to pay the salaries of over 45,000 civil servants. In recent months, Hamas has been earning some $8 million in taxes on smuggled fuel alone, and also levies a tax of about $5.40 on every ton of cement. An average of 70,000 tons of cement is smuggled into Gaza every month.10

Hamas’ leaders are consulting over how, and even if, they can help their brothers in Cairo, but at the same time they are talking about how to stay alive. So while the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is counting its dead by the hundreds, and the campaign being waged by the Egyptian army against them is far from over, the Hamas movement has withdrawn into itself and instructed its spokesmen to avoid making any comments about the crisis in Egypt, so that it does not upset those very people it really does not want to upset right now. Hamas spokesmen totally deny Hamas involvement in terrorist attacks conducted against Egyptian troops in Sinai. Hamas did not dare organize even a single rally in support of them. It seems that fear causes Hamas to take extra precautions – both in word and deed – so as not to evoke the wrath of Egyptian army Commander in Chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.11

The situation in Egypt has paralyzed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and even the leader of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, who seems to have disappeared ever since Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was deposed.12

There was little surprise that the Hamas leaders who have spoken out against Egypt are those based abroad and not those living in Gaza.13 As a political scientist at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University put it, “Those who live abroad don’t care as much about Gaza’s isolation, but Gaza’s rulers will pay the price for any Egyptian escalation. I think those in Gaza will be more prudent and nuanced when they speak about the new Egyptian government.”14

Hamas Losing Allies

The most important question of all remains: What future does Hamas have? For the first time in more than two decades, Hamas has no regional political allies in positions of power – a huge problem for a movement that is heavily dependent on alliances that provide financial, military, and political support. Sunni Hamas severed ties with former ally Syria last year over its crackdown on the predominantly Sunni Syrian opposition. As a result, Iran has stopped its financial aid that consisted of almost $20 million per month.15 Syria and Hamas, along with Iran and Hizbullah, formed the so-called “axis of resistance” that opposed Israel and the West. For decades, Syria embraced Hamas’ leadership and provided the Islamic movement with funds, weapons, and political support, which were used to wage war against Israel and, later, the more moderate Palestinian faction, Fatah.

Now, Hamas has turned to Turkey and Qatar to fill the void.16 However, since Egypt’s Islamist government was toppled, and following the deterioration in Turkish-Egyptian as well as Qatari-Egyptian relations, Hamas’ relationship with Turkey and Qatar has seemed to be faltering. Egypt was the critical link between Gaza and its benefactors because of its shared border.

An article in Hamas’ official daily Al-Rissalah claimed: “Indications on the ground show that Cairo…will not allow the Islamic model in Gaza to remain standing due to its ideological ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is being marginalized from the Egyptian political scene at gunpoint….Those who follow Egyptian affairs know full well that Gaza is prone to return to its political isolation. This is the biggest fear of Palestinians living in the Strip, following a year of regional and international acceptance.”17

It would be fair to assess that Gaza’s isolation is Egypt’s ultimate goal, since such an objective would meet Egypt’s interests: to consign Gaza to oblivion and reduce Hamas to its real size.

*     *     *

Notes

1. Assaf Gibor, Maariv-nrg, 2 September 2013.
2. Elhanan Miller, “Hamas used metal darts to kill protesters during Egypt’s revolution,” Times of Israel, 30 April 2013.
3. i24news, 25 August 2013.
4. “Egyptian General: Hamas terrorizing Egyptians,” Times of Israel, 18 July 2013.
5. Avi Issacharoff, “No summer break in the violent Middle East,” Times of Israel, 23 August 2013.
6. Al-Yawm el-Sabei, Egypt, 24 August 2013.
7. Shlomi Eldar, “Has Hamas abandoned Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood?” Al-Monitor, 19 August 2013.
8. Ahmad Aldabba, “With Brotherhood’s fall in Egypt, Hamas faces harsh reality again,” Christian Science Monitor, 27 July 2013.
9. Theresa Breuer, “Closed tunnels could ruin Hamas,” Der Spiegel, 30 July 2013.
10. Ibid.
11. Shlomi Eldar, op.cit.
12. Ibid.
13. Elhanan Miller, “Cautiously Hamas speaks out against Egyptian bloodshed,” Times of Israel, 19 August 2013.
14. Ibid.
15. Theresa Breuer, op.cit.
16. Ahmad Aldabba, op.cit.
17. Elhanan Miller, op.cit.

http://israelagainstterror.blogspot.co.il/2013/10/after-muslim-brotherhood-in-egypt-is.html

Egypt is Boiling

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

During the years of Mubarak’s rule, he had only three true supporters: his wife Suzanne and his sons Gamal and Alaa. All of the other figures that surrounded Mubarak were politicians and sycophants who took advantage of their proximity to the president to extract favors as long as he was able to grant them. The moment that they felt that he was weak, they abandoned him to the fate of dismissal and the defendant’s cage. In contrast, in Mursi’s case there were, and still are, tens of millions of supporters who are ready at a moment’s notice to fight to the end, in order to return him to power. This is the reason for the contrast between the ease with which Mubarak was taken down and the difficulties that the army has been experiencing in its attempts to stabilize the state since Mursi was thrown out of office about three months ago, at the beginning of July of this year (2013).

The most important and sensitive indicator of the current state of political stability is what is happening in the educational system: If the schools open on schedule, students go to school as usual and studies in all of the institutions are conducted normally, it is a sign of a stable state, and a functional government, based on legitimacy and wide public acceptance. When life is disrupted, the first thing to be harmed is the educational system because parents don’t send their children out into the streets in a situation that they consider to be dangerous.

The Egyptian school year was supposed to begin these days. But despite the fact that many of its leaders are behind bars, the Muslim Brotherhood came out with the rhyming slogan: “La Dirasa wala tadris hata yarga al-Rais” – “No school and no instruction until the president’s return”.

The universities are more than just institutions of higher learning, because they also serve as a meeting place, a place to express solidarity and a field of activity for the young guard, the energetic ones of the Muslim Brotherhood, who are quite aware that after they successfully finish their academic studies, there will be several years of searching for work in their field, and many frustrations and disappointments stemming from the widespread protectionism that exists within the Egyptian job market, and certainly within the governmental job market.

Today, when the average age of marriage has risen to over thirty years of age because of economic difficulties, the young men and women channel their energies, their frustrations and their aggression into the political arena, in the absence of any other legitimate channel in a conservative society such as Egypt’s.  Because of their age and family status, the pupils and students do not yet need to submit to the need for bribery and flattery that family heads have to, in order to maintain their livelihood, and this allows them to say, and even to shout, truth to power and its henchmen.

In high schools, colleges and universities throughout Egypt, and especially those in indigent and traditional areas, there are many demonstrations these days. Although these demonstrations are mostly peaceful in character, they express the emotions of the masses, who are enraged that the revolution has led to the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some of the youths are armed, mainly with knives and handguns, and there is high potential for violence to break out.

In parallel with the teachers’ strike there have been attempts to organize commercial strikes, but these attempts have failed because many of the unemployed in Egypt are street vendors who are not unionized, so it is difficult to get them to cooperate, since their income will suffer.

As of this writing, the UN Economic Council in New York is currently conducting activities, where Egypt is represented by Nabil Fahmi, the army-appointed Foreign Minister in the current military government. This is another reason for ferment among the supporters of the deposed president, Mursi, and they have been organizing protest demonstrations in front of UN representatives in Egypt. These demonstrations, should they become habitual, might bring about a violent response from the army, similar to the violent evacuation of Rabia al-Adawiya Square last month (August, 2013), which cost the lives of dozens of people.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/dr-mordechai-kedar/egypt-is-boiling/2013/09/29/

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